The Art Community of Schwaan

Following the establishment of various European Art Communities inspired by the School of Barbizon, a similar community of painters developed in Mecklenburg in 1890. The small rural town of Schwaan, situated in its attractive river landscape, offered a wide variety of motives for the drawing and painting of nature.

Previously, during the 1860's the Schwerin artists Otto Dörr, Eduard Ehrke, as well as the painter Carl Malchin, renowned for his superb landscapes of Mecklenburg, had settled here.

However it was primarily due to artist Franz Bunke, a Schwaaner by birth, that the small town developed as a «Mecca for artists». After his studies at the Weimar School of Painting with Theodor Hagen, he remained there as a professor of 'landscape painting'. In his early days as professor he spent his holidays, in the company of colleagues Paul Baum, Arno Metzeroth and Richard Starke, in Schwaan, where they explored their mutual interest in the natural world.

After 1892 his students (especially the female ones!) accompanied him on his holiday artistic ventures.

Two other artists born in Schwaan, Rudolf Bartels and Peter Paul Draewing , followed Bunke's advice and studied with Hagen in Weimar. Thus the community of artists can be justly proud of the great local influence established from those early days.

Another Weimar trained artist, Hamburg born Alfred Heinsohn, settled in Schwaan in 1902. The Weimar training, which emphasized the development of an individual artist's personality, is highlighted in the important works of those early Schwaan artists: Bunke, Bartels, Heinsohn and Draewing.

Rudolf Bartels became the most important painter of Mecklenburg during the first half of the 20th century.

During this period Franz Bunke was famous as the founder and the central figure in the art community of Schwaan which was notable for its emphasis on painting in the open air. As well as colleagues and students, Bunke attracted many interested amateur painters to Schwaan.

The brothers - Rudolf, Carl and Otto Bartels - were also involved in the community.

With the advent of the first world war, the Schwaan community diminished. Bartels, Draewing and Heinsohn were drafted into the army. Franz Bunke continued his holiday trips to Schwaan with just a few of his students.

Two of these students, Erich Venzmer and Wilhelm Facklam, were excellent landscape painters.